In 2014, Indonesia is also recognized as the world’s second most innovative country in education based on OECD report.
With a growing young population where the median age is 27, Indonesia has shown its commitment to schooling by dedicating 20% of its annual budget to education.
Indonesia is now in its second stage of its long-term development plan, which is focused on improving the quality of human resources, the development of science and technology and strengthening economic competitiveness.
Education in Indonesia is under the responsibilities of:
Ministry of Education and Culture (Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan or Kemdikbud) for general primary and secondary education;
Ministry of Religious Affairs (Kementerian Agama or Kemenag) for Islamic primary and secondary education; and
Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (Kementerian Riset, Teknologi dan Pendidikan tinggi or Kemristekdikti) for higher education.
In Indonesia, all citizens must undertake nine years of compulsory education which consists of six years at primary level and three years in middle level.
Based on Indonesian Constitution, education is defined as a planned effort to establish a study environment and education process so that the student may actively develop his/her own potential to gain the religious and spiritual level, consciousness, personality, intelligence, behavior and creativity to him/herself, other citizens and for the nation. The Constitution also notes that education in Indonesia is divided into two major parts, formal and non-formal. Formal education is further divided into three levels, primary, secondary and tertiary education.
According to Law No. 2 of 1989 on the National Education System, the objectives of Indonesian national education system are:
1. to establish a high-quality and self-reliant human being whose values are based in Pancasila;
2. to support the Indonesian society, people and State;
3. to keep and maintain Indonesia’s cultural background; and
4. to generate the knowledge, skills and scientific progress that will keep the nation abreast in the twenty-first century.
These objectives were expanded by the National Education System Law of July 2003, which established that Indonesia’s education system should ensure equal opportunity, improvement of quality and relevance, and efficiency in management to meet various challenges in the wake of changes of local, national and global lives. Thus, the current principles of education provision are:
1. Education is conducted democratically, equally and non-discriminatorily based on human rights, religious values, cultural values and national pluralism;
2. Education is conducted as a systemic unit with an open system and multi-meanings
3. Education is conducted as a lifelong process of inculcating cultural values and for the empowerment of learners;
4. Education is conducted based on the principles of modeling, motivation and creativity in the process of learning;
5. Education is conducted by developing culture for reading and writing and arithmetic, for all members of the community; and
6. Education is conducted by empowering all components of the community through their participation in the implementation and quality control of the education services.
Schools in Indonesia are run either by the government (negeri) or private sectors (swasta). Some private schools refer to themselves as "national plus schools" which means that they intend to go beyond the minimum government requirements, especially with the use of English as medium of instruction or having an international-based curriculum instead of the national one.
The school year is divided into two semesters. The first commences in July and ends in December while the latter commences in January and ends in June.
The school grades are as follows:
In Indonesia, 6 years in primary school and 3 years in junior high school are compulsory. The primary phase follows on after optional pre-school playgroups that may commence in a child’s third year. Most elementary schools are government controlled. Some offer accelerated programs that compress the phase to 5 years. As Islamic education system operates in parallel to this.
Junior high school offers a bridge between the gentler pace of the elementary phase, and the challenges of senior high school that may follow. It also assists educators to determine a possible future direction for their students. The Islamic education system continues to provide an alternative.
There are two different kinds of Indonesian high schools providing two streams of education for those who choose to optionally enroll. One of these is aimed at those who intend to go on to university. The other is for those who plan to find jobs right away. Other young people choose the Islamic alternative.
Vocational training is mainly provided by private training colleges and initiatives by donor countries.
There are 4 kinds of tertiary education institutions in Indonesia, namely polytechnics, academies, institutes and universities. Some of these are state controlled, some are religiously affiliated and some are privately funded. The oldest is the University of Indonesia founded in 1947. It enjoys a prestigious local reputation and was ranked among the top 50 in Asia in May 2011.
Preschool education is provided for children aged 4 - 6 and lasts one or two years. It is not compulsory and can be provided through formal, non-formal or informal education.
Primary education lasts six years and the entry age is 7. It is part of the nine-year compulsory basic education. Upon completing primary education after Grade 6, students take the national examination. Access to lower secondary education depends on the results of academic and psychological tests.
Lower secondary education lasts three years and is also part of the compulsory nine-year basic education program. Upon completing lower secondary education after Grade 9, students complete the national examination and, if successful, are awarded the lower secondary school certificate. Depending on the results of academic and psychological tests, students who have completed basic education can enter senior general secondary or senior technical and vocational secondary schools. Both of these options offer a three-year program.
At the senior general secondary level, students share a common curriculum for the first year followed by a second year during which they specialize in natural sciences (IPA), social sciences (IPS), languages or religious studies. Technical and vocational secondary schools consist of about 40 programs in numerous fields such as technology and engineering, health, arts, tourism, information and communication technologies, and others. Upon completion of either a senior general secondary program or a technical and vocational training program, students complete a national examination and, if successful, are awarded a national certificate which grants them access to higher education.
Higher education institutions include academies, polytechnics, colleges, institutes and universities. Academies offer applied science education in one discipline, technology or the arts. Polytechnics offer applied science education in a variety of specific fields. Both of these forms of higher education are categorized as professional education. Colleges offer academic and professional education in one particular discipline. An institute consists of faculties offering academic and/or professional education in disciplines that belong to the same group of a professional field. A university consists of several disciplines, technologies and/or the arts. A university program normally lasts four years, leading to the S1 degree (comparable to a bachelor's degree). Those with an S1 degree can pursue an S2 degree (comparable to a master’s degree) by completing a minimum of two years of further study. A program leading the S3 degree (comparable to a doctoral degree) typically lasts 3 years beyond the S2 degree.
The Teacher Law of 2005 transformed teacher management by establishing higher qualifications for teacher eligibility. All teachers much complete the certification process, which requires a minimum qualification of a four-year higher education degree (such as an S1 degree) or a four-year diploma (a D4 degree). The law also mandates that teachers must be able to demonstrate competency in pedagogical, personal, professional and social aspects.
The National Standards Board (BSNP) has developed a set of standards for teachers, principals and school supervisors. These standards serve as a basis to certify teachers. The National Accreditation Agency (BAN-PT) also requires universities to demonstrate that they have used these standards to revise existing courses and develop new teaching training courses.
For further information, please visit
(read online “Education in Indonesia: Rising to the Challenge”, OECD/Asian Development Bank 2015)
(Indonesia Education Profile – UNESCO)